Some new reports have emerged regarding the form factor of the highly rumored iPad mini (or indeed iPad Air as it may be called). According to sources who are apparently familiar with the new device, the new 7.85 inch iPad will look much like an iPod touch, with dramatic tapering and narrow side panels (via 9to5Mac). The bezel, or the non-touch sensitive area around the screen, is also thought to be substantially thinner, and on the top and bottom of the device there will be slightly thicker panels. The new design is thought to make the device very easy to hold. The thinness of the new device is also backed up by a report from iMore who suggest that the new iPad mini will be the same thickness as the iPod touch.
In addition, Daring Fireball adds fuel to the fire by suggesting that previously leaked photos of some purported iPad mini components were actually accurate and that the device will indeed have thin tapered sides. He also notes that the device could be extremely light, within a weight range of approximately 265 grams which would make it around 400g lighter than the iPad 3 and around 350g lighter than the iPad 2, highlighting the potential for portability.
The nifty mockup above, by 9to5Mac, shows a device that does indeed have a precipitously thin bezel around the screen, and if accurate, it is hard to see how a user could hold the device without activating the screen. People tend to hold an iPhone with their thumb at the side, and then when holding an iPad, the thumb moves to the front over the bezel. The new device will apparently lack the bezel, but with the reportedly thinner sides, it will be interesting to see how people hold it.
The new device is expected to have a non-retina display resolution of 1024 x 768, which is the same as the first generation iPad and the iPad 2, but it will be compressed into a smaller screen so the pixel density will sit somewhere between that of the iPad 2 and iPad 3, around 163 pixels per inch. This will essentially give user better detail than would be expected with the pixel density of the iPad and iPad 2.
But, what about limitations? If the new iPad mini is as thin and light as everybody is expecting, then it is very unlikely that it is going to have LTE compatibility, with all the battery capacity that is required to go along with that. Whether or not it will have Near Field Communication compatibility is perhaps up for debate, but assuming this technology has a similar battery consumption to Bluetooth, then it could be in the new device (assuming it also appears in the iPhone 5). That said, Apple will likely be trying to make the thinnest device they can while maintaining the iPad 10 hour battery life, so it’s unlikely they would be debuting any novel technologies in the smaller iPad.
The site iMore has continuously pointed to a September launch for the new iPad, whereas others are suggesting it will take place further down the line. With Apple thought to be holding a launch event for the next generation iPhone 5 on September 12 with pre-orders the same day, is it possible to interpret the confusion between the launch dates of the iPad mini as Apple unveiling the iPad mini device on September 12, but pre-orders starting in late October?